Life

God is Not an Afterthought

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I’m back! A month and a half later, and here I am, finally writing again. Nothing in particular has kept me from it, other than my busy schedule.

Life’s been crazy lately. I’ve never worked this much and there are an awful lot of projects soon to be due for different classes. Thanksgiving was, of course, wonderful, but also hectic. Random little things are in abundance: birthday celebrations, driving siblings to school, and getting the flu shot. It all adds up and, before you know it, you’re out of time.

We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day, the same seven days in a week. How we choose to spend it speaks volumes about who we are and what we value. The fact that I take books for school with me in case I have a few minutes shows that I value getting that done. Showing up for work on time and doing your best while you’re there shows a work ethic to be admired. There are a lot of good things to value, but there is only one best thing.

Often, God gets pushed to the backseat in the middle of busyness. Yes, I can make it to practice, but no, I don’t have time to read my Bible. This has become a problem for me. I was blessed enough to be able to pour a lot of time into my spiritual health and relationship with God over the summer, so that now I have that desire to spend time with Him. What I’m lacking at the moment is the time.

It is prideful and foolish to fill your life so much that there is no room for God every day. That is a sure way for things to fall apart. But I know what it feels like to be drowning in so much that it seems reading the Bible won’t fit anywhere and praying is a thing of the past. So here are some things I’ve taken to doing to make sure I’m still spending time with my Lord, Creator, and Father every day.

Create a habit for devotions.

This one’s tough, but it’s essential. Look at your average week and see what time of day is usually free. And give yourself some time. Make sure you’ve got at least half an hour to start, even if it won’t take you that long. Then do devotions every day that you can. Don’t beat yourself up over the days you can’t, but don’t let yourself skip the days you can, even if the time must be abbreviated.

It’s okay to be busy, but if you are unable to set aside time to spend in full devotion to God most days of the week, there’s a problem.

That being said, here’s what I do when devotions are not a possibility (and often when they are):

Pray EVERYWHERE.

Pray in the car on your way to work and class. Pray in bed before you fall asleep. Pray in the shower. Pray in class (maybe not all the time, but if you can pull it off…). Any time you find yourself with nothing in particular to think about, pray.

And vary your prayers. You can pray for your family at a traffic light. You can thank God for your blessings while you wash your hair. Just take a deep breath and talk to God.

Make meal times count.

I know that meals often get lost in the mayhem and tend to turn into “what can I grab from the fridge in two seconds flat so I won’t be late for fill-in-the-blank” sessions. But I would encourage you to take a minute to pray before meals. Yes, every time, and yes, in public.

You might only have thirty seconds or maybe you can take five minutes, but that’s time well spent. Besides, it’s good for you to stop to eat a proper meal every once in a while (or so the “experts” say).

Read your Bible whenever you get the chance.

Block out other thoughts while you read, even if it’s only for a few verses. Take notes and underline. Pray while you read. (I know – I won’t stop talking about prayer, but it is the one and only reason I have survived this past month and a half.)

Don’t confine yourself to the plan you’re doing if you only have five minutes and you want to read somewhere else. God’s Word sanctifies us (John 17:17) and gives us rest.

Go to church.

I don’t care how busy you are. If you are not dying of the plague, go to church. I understand that some people must work on Sundays, but do your best to avoid it. Church is specifically designed to be a place of fellowship with God’s people while we worship Him together. The Sabbath day is a day of rest. Church is an excellent way to rest. Don’t give up the opportunity to be spiritually fed and in turn praise the Lord because you’re too tired or don’t have time. Church is essential.

 

I hope some of these will be helpful to you in staying close to God through the chaos. Busyness isn’t a reason to push God aside; it’s a reason to draw even closer.

Have a blessed and fruitful day!

Kira

What do you do to stay “in-touch” with God? Are there any particularly weird places you like to pray?

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Find What’s Best

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Let your weary spirit rest.

Lay down what’s good and find what’s best

And be. Just be.

“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz

This world is crazy. We don’t need to go over that again. We are all guilty of getting caught up in all of it, of placing mountains of importance on temporary things and forgetting the eternal for a while. That’s been especially true for me this week as I’m once again trying to balance school, work, social life, and all the rest, just like you are, I’m sure.

The song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz is incredible. If you are so inclined, I highly encourage you to listen to the whole thing. The piece that has especially been on my mind lately is the chorus though. He says, “Lay down what’s good and find what’s best.”

That’s an easy concept, but a hard thing to do. I know that I (as a Type-A personality) want to do everything that is good. And there are a lot of good things in the world. So many of them are available and easy, but they add up. They fill up your time before you realize it. They become overwhelming and “what’s good” turns into “what’s draining.”

We must lay down the good in order to pursue what is best. So how do we discern what falls into these categories? How do we figure out what’s only good and what’s really best?

The answer is prayer. To give an example, I’ve been planning to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November all year. I’ve done it for the last two years and once a few years before. I love NaNoWriMo and everyone’s talking about it amongst the writerly communities.

I’m also in the middle of editing a manuscript which I sincerely hope to have published and maintaining and growing this blog. Not to mention the rest of life. NaNoWriMo looks so appealing and it is definitely a good thing. But I don’t think it’s the best for me right now.

I pray before I write every day and pray about my writing at other times too. As I prayed about NaNoWriMo, it became clear that, while it would be good, it would take away from school, relationships, and other projects (not to mention physical health during those midnight writing sessions). So I won’t do it this year.

Are you doing too much? Do you always feel hurried or exhausted or frazzled? Feelings are not generally reliable, but they can be helpful here, in figuring out if you’re trying to juggle too much. I feel busy most of the time, so I’m laying down the good of writing a novel in a month to pursue the best of being able to handle school, siblings, and editing.

Finding the right balance in life is not easy. It takes years of trial and error, prayer and evaluation. And it keeps changing, based on what stage of life you’re in. But it’s worth it for you and the people around you. Pray about everything. How you should do it, when you should do it, whether you should do it. That is always best.

So let your weary spirit rest. Lay down what’s good and find what’s best. And be. Just be.

Kira

Are you tring to do too much? What could you lay down in order to find what’s best?

From the Archives: The Little Things

So often, small happy things get lost in the whirlwind. It’s refreshing to come back to in the middle of everything right now.

Originally published: 6/2/17


Life is busy. Pretty much anyone who ever lived would agree. There’s work, school, family, sports, church events, and everything else that claims hours and days of our lives. Most of that stuff is really good. We were made to live full lives and glorify God with our work. But often, we let it overwhelm us and forget to enjoy it.

I’ve been noticing the little things lately. And by little things, I mean the stuff that I would usually ignore in favor of all the work (or made up work) that I have to do. Why would I watch my little blonde, blue eyed sister pick flowers on a hill when I have a book to read? Why would I listen to my brother whistle whatever song is stuck in his head when I have finals to study for? And why would I lay in the hammock with previously mentioned little sister when I could be writing a blog post?

Reading books, studying for finals, and writing blog posts are all excellent things to do. In fact, I partake of them quite regularly. But it’s also good to admire how your sister’s hair glows in the setting sun, to appreciate the cuteness of your brother’s off-key whistle, to let a four year old crawl all over you as you sway three feet off the ground.

A lot of times, I deny people my time and love, even in small increments, because I “have too much work to do.” It’s ultimately denying myself something good as well. There’s always more time to do that work, but my sister won’t be four forever. I won’t live with my siblings for much longer. Appreciating the little tiny things now is just as responsible a way to use time as is scribbling away at notes for a test.

Yes, sometimes we do have to ignore the little things in order to get our work done. But how often could we postpone the work for five minutes to trace a hand with a crayon, climb a tree, or walk down the street?

I’m not only talking about time with siblings – that’s just the biggest way little things are manifested in my life. Maybe a little thing for you would be reading a chapter of a book, actually tasting a few sips of morning coffee, or staring up at the clouds to think for a couple minutes.

The little things are good. They are refreshing. They stay in your memory and make you smile. People are often included in little things. A fifteen minute walk with my sister gives us time to talk. Sitting next to someone silently can be comfortable. The little things are what strengthen important relationships – the ones we don’t want to lose.

Little things are smelling the summer air, snuggling under a blanket at the end of the day, warming your hands by a bonfire in the middle of friends on a late July night.

What little things have crept into your life lately? Take a minute and enjoy them. You won’t regret it.

Kira

What are some of your favorite pockets of joy? Have you stopped for them lately?

From the Archives: On Death

This post was the result of reading Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and Francis Chan’s Crazy Love at the same time. It got me thinking about death and, more importantly, life.

Originally published: 5/5/17


So I’ve been reading a lot about death the last couple days. Not intentionally. It’s just happened to come up in a couple books I’m working through this week.

This has resulted in my thinking about death. And the time before death. And how that time should be spent. You know, now that I think about it, this reminds me of one of my semi-recent posts: Borrowed Time.

Anyway, back to today. Let me start by giving you a sampling of what I’ve been reading and then tell you what’s running through my very scattered brain.

The first book is Meditations by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. No, I didn’t just pick it up because the cover looks cool – it’s for school. To be honest though, I don’t totally dread reading it. Aurelius isn’t all that boring.

Meditations is a book of personal thoughts, resolutions, and observations of the world from the worldview of a Stoic philosopher/emperor shortly after the time of Jesus. Aurelius’ goal was to live a virtuous and moral life. Here are his thoughts on death:

Death: something like birth, a natural mystery, elements that split and recombine.

Not an embarrassing thing. Not an offense to reason, or our nature. (Meditations, Book 4)

People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too. And those after them in turn. Until their memory, passed from one to another like a candle flame, gutters and goes out.

But suppose that those who remembered you were immortal and your memory undying. What good would it do you? And I don’t just mean when you’re dead, but in your own lifetime. What use is praise, except to make your lifestyle a little more comfortable? (Meditations, Book 4)

Those two excerpts basically cover Aurelius’ views on death as told in his Meditations. According to him, death is not something to be feared and there is absolutely no use in trying to get people to remember you and your fame.

The second book I’ve been reading this week that brought up the subject of death when I least expected it is Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I’m not very far into it yet, but his perspective on death and “posthumous fame” still gave me pause.

In about fifty years (give or take a couple of decades), no one will remember you. Everyone you know will be dead. Certainly no one will care what job you had, what car you drove, what school you attended, or what clothes you wore. This can be terrifying or reassuring, or maybe a mix of both. (Crazy Love, ch 2)

That’s pretty straightforward. The chapter containing these sentences is about how everything and every time is about God – including the miniscule piece of eternity that our lives occupy.

Reading these books at the same time has left me thinking a lot about death, as I mentioned before. But it hasn’t been depressing. In fact, the result of all my meditation on death has been that I’ve been thinking about life a lot. Particularly my life. It may be an easy question, but who is my life supposed to glorify?

Now, Aurelius was not a Christian. In fact, even though his book is full of virtues and morals, he heavily persecuted the Christians. It was a crime not to worship Caesar and guess who the Christians didn’t worship? His answer is that your life isn’t really meant to glorify anyone. You go about your business, try to do the right things, and eventually die.

Francis Chan on the other hand is a pastor. He is so passionate about his faith. So his answer is that our lives are supposed to glorify God – even though they are incredibly short in light of eternity. He uses the illustration of all of us being extras in a movie about God to make his point.

We have only our two-fifths-of-a-second-long scene to live. I don’t know about you, but I want my two-fifths of a second to be about my making much of God. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That is what each of our two-fifths of a second is about. (Crazy Love, ch 2)

Question: Who is my life supposed to glorify?

Answer: God.

Harder Question: Who does my life glorify?

Harder Answer: Usually me.

It’s not natural to instantly give God the glory or to act in every little thing in a way that honors Him. But that’s what we’ve got to strive to do. God is too great and wonderful for us to make this about us! Even Aurelius realized that fame and glory don’t actually do us any good. So if they’re not going to help us out anyway, we may as well make our lives about God, right?

But that’s not how it’s supposed to work either. We don’t just glorify God because our glory won’t last. Our lives should be lived as a response to everything He’s done for us. For me, that includes salvation, putting me in the beautiful mountains of Virginia, piecing together my family so that I understand His picture of adoption, letting me be homeschooled, and tons and tons of other stuff. What does it mean for you?

When I think about all the stuff God has given me in my life that I don’t deserve, it makes me want to live for Him. Yes, I still mess up. All. The. Time. But His grace means I can try again. I don’t have to stay down.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from Francis Chan, because he said it well.

The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift. (Crazy Love, ch 2)

Kira

What do you think about death? Is it something that you avoid thinking about or examine in light of eternity?

You Can’t Handle This

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“Just remember, God won’t ever give you anything you can’t handle.”

Those words make me want to shake my head, groan, glare, and sigh. It’s one of the go-to statements of friends of the hurting and often pops up in Bible studies about suffering. And the words sound good. They really do. When I’m struggling and wrestling with something hard, it would be nice to believe that it’s all okay and God wouldn’t let it happen if I couldn’t handle it.

The problem, though, is that it’s just wrong. Of course God will give us things we can’t handle! In fact, that’s basically His plan for your whole life.

We were not created to be self-sufficient and able to do all things by our own power no matter the pain. Also, God does not take a look at us before sending something hard in order to evaluate how He thinks we’ll hold up.

God puts us through things we can’t handle on purpose because the benefits are light-years greater than the pain. When we are in the middle of something devastating is the time when we have to look to God to step in and deliver us. They are the times when our faith is stretched farther than we thought it could go and our Lord proves Himself once again.

If you think back over your life, aren’t the really difficult times the ones that made the biggest impact on who you are today? I couldn’t handle my little sister being taken away by my own strength, but my faith has grown. And aren’t they generally the times that are followed by God’s great provision?

We are made to need support, something that today’s culture is trying to erase from our minds. Feminism tells women that they are strong and independent and don’t need men to help them. Movies and books tell kids that they’re better off without their parents or teachers, who lack the intelligence to present themselves respectably.

The Bible tells us the exact opposite. It contains countless examples of community and fellowship. Paul traveled with lots of different people and mentioned how they helped him in his ministry and persecution in his epistles. Adam was given Eve as a companion and helpmeet. Even Jesus brought His disciples with Him.

More important than human community is community with God. As I read 1 Corinthians a few days ago, a verse really stuck out to me. Paul is talking about how there shouldn’t be any divisions in the church between people who want to follow him or Apollos or anyone else. We should all be following God. So he is explaining how the church is built and grows by God’s work through us.

For we are God’s fellow workers. – 1 Corinthians 3:9a

Very short, but very powerful. We are not called to brave this life on our own, fighting every villain and slaying every dragon. Our God is there for us and we are called to work alongside Him. How humbling is that?

God will give you things you can’t handle – you can be sure of that. But when He does, He’ll also help you through, which is infinitely more encouraging.

Kira

How did you grow or learn when God gave you something you couldn’t get through by yourself? How did it lead to where you are now?

Crazy Week and Energy

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Let me preface this post with an explanation of why it is so very short. This week has been an upside down, twisted up, crazy seven days. On Sunday, one of my brothers broke both of his wrists at once at a birthday party and spent the evening in the emergency room. Two of my siblings are in their second week of private school and still figuring out how everything works. I’m preparing for my own classes to start next week and working almost every day. Three people in our family have been traveling at the same time to two different states.

And now for the big one.

We got a new foster placement this week! For those of you who don’t know what foster care is, you can read about it in this post. So there are two new children in our house, going to a different school, and living in my bedroom. Which means we are all in a huge crazy busy transitional mess as we try to get a routine set up.

So please excuse the lack of coherent and thought out posts. 🙂


Today, I want to encourage you to keep going. The school year’s starting up and a lot of people are in a really hectic stage of the year.

In Colossians 1, Paul is describing his ministry to the church and says, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29)

What hit me about this verse didn’t have anything to do with Paul proclaiming the gospel, but rather with the idea that God supplies our energy.

In conclusion, the next time you feel like you’re drowning in life, remember Who gives you the energy to make it through.

Kira

How is your school year going so far? What helps you get through all the crazy?

From the Archives: Reasons and Excuses

This is a more recent post written after a long stretch of not blogging. It is sort of an examination of why that was and why it was wrong, all coming around to God’s work in the lives of His people.

Originally published: 12/1/16


If I were so inclined, I could produce a plethora of reasons (insert: “excuses”) as to why I haven’t written anything in the past few (ahem, five) months.

Fortunately for you, I am not so inclined.

I will, however, state one reason (do not insert “excuse” here): I haven’t had anything to write about.

I’m completely serious. The author wannabe hasn’t had a single thing to write about in nearly five months now. Not counting, of course, a few e-mails and texts and things of that nature. Though I will admit I am abominably slow at replying to such things. Oh, and homework. Who could forget a lovely thing like that?

But I haven’t had anything to say on here, on this blog. As you likely know, I usually write things like fiction, anecdotes from my real life, and ways that God’s been working on me.

Ah, ways that God’s been working on me. Such a lovely thing to ponder… Wait a minute. If I haven’t had anything to say on any of those topics for almost half a year, does that mean He’s just stopped? I’m no longer growing? I’ve finally reached that point of perfection so long sought after?

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by trying to convince you of that. No one’s perfect, believe it or not, and I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet to say you believe that.

So why the drought of words? If I haven’t become the epitome of all that is beautiful and pure in the world, why have I had nothing to say on the subject of anything lately? Has God given up on me? Is that it? He threw up His hands in disgust and left to work on some holier project?

Um, no.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that God hasn’t given up on me. If Jesus went all the way to the point of death on the cross for me while I was still as dead as a person can get in my sin, why would He stop molding me to His image now? The thing is, He wouldn’t.

So that brings me back to my original question. What happened to all the thoughts that I normally transform so eagerly into sentences to push out into the wide wide world to be read by people who aren’t me and my imaginary friends?

I’ll tell you what happened. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. Nope. Just ask my sister, I’ve been talking probably more than ever since the July of my last post. And we’ve already determined that God hasn’t stopped working on me. Quite the contrary actually – He’s been growing me in ways that make me beyond grateful and that I didn’t see coming.

So are you ready for the answer then? The reason behind the lack of typed verbiage? There are two of them actually and here they are:

1. I didn’t think any of it was good enough to say.

2. I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say.

Can we just take one second to laugh really hard at reason number 1? Seriously, go ahead. I have.

I’ll explain that moment of laughter. If I claim to be a Bible believing, born again Christian (and I do), shouldn’t I be growing in my faith every single day and not taking five month breaks? Yes, I should and yes, I have been. So if, like I’ve said, God has been working in me this whole time, isn’t that part of my testimony or witness or whatever word you want to use? Yes, of course it is. My testimony doesn’t end with salvation. That’s more like the beginning. Finally, if that growth is part of my testimony, how can it possibly not be good enough to say? Am I really criticizing God on how He’s been using me and growing me and telling Him it’s not good enough to post on the internet? Let’s take another laughing break, only this one should be in disbelief and with lots of head shaking.

But that’s what I’ve been thinking. “Wow, I love all this growth and learning new stuff, but I don’t think anyone else would want to read about it. So I’ll just go read some other blog written by some interesting person.” Really? First off, who cares if anyone wants to read it? My popularity (or lack thereof) in this life has absolutely nothing to do with who I am. Nothing. At all. Second, if God loves me as His daughter and is taking the care to grow me in a way that is special to me, He deserves praise and glory for that. Right? I mean really, am I right? Yes! So how dare I think that I don’t have anything good enough to say! If God’s working in me and through me, I should never run out of things to say, regardless of who reads them.

On to reason/excuse number 2.

I didn’t think I could do justice to what I did want to say. So, yes. there were a few things that I thought I’d like to write about and post, but I didn’t think I could say them well enough. I mean, I’m a teenager, still working on my writing, growing my fancy-schmancy vocabulary and learning how to make things interesting and fit together. How could I possibly say what God wants me to say in the way He wants me to say it? It simply can’t be done.

I am really hoping right now that you read that last paragraph in the most sarcastic voice your brain could supply. If you didn’t, please go back and try again. I’ll wait.

Am I ever going to be perfect? Nope. So am I ever going to be able to perfectly show what God’s doing in my life? Nope again. Well, if I can’t do it perfectly, then why bother?

Turns out, I’m supposed to bother because God told me to bother. If I don’t praise the Lord, the stones will. And who wants to lose in praising God to a bunch of rocks? Um, not me.

No, I can’t write everything perfectly, no matter how hard I try. And I probably can’t do it justice. But the point is that I try. I give my absolute best for God and quit acting like I have to be any good by my own strength before He can use me. Guess what. He can use me now. He could use this imperfect post I’m typing viciously away at however He feels like it. And who am I to stop using the words He’s given me because I don’t think they’re good enough? No one, that’s who.

So there you have it. That’s why I haven’t been writing. Because I’m a sinner who doesn’t want to praise God for what He does for me.

Well, that’s going to change. In fact, it already has. Look at this, I’m writing about what God showed me recently right this very second! I love my God and I want other people to love Him too. I want to be used by Him to show other people how great and amazing He is. I’m not going to do it perfectly, but I still want to do it. What could possibly be better than to have a testimony and a witness used by God in someone else’s life? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So maybe now you could go back to where I said not to insert “excuse” and go ahead and put it in there. Because there is no reason good enough to not give glory to God.

Kira

What has God been doing in your life lately? How have you given Him the glory for it?

Setting the Example in Self-Image

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Countless articles promote the idea that you are beautiful just the way you are. “Be satisfied with the body God gave you.” “Love yourself.” “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

There are studies of the psychological benefits of being happy with yourself, statistics about how many people aren’t, and expositions on how to be content. But I believe they all miss a very important point: the effect your self-image has on other people.

A few days ago, my four year old sister was playing in my room and randomly started doing all the stretches and exercises she knew. I smiled at her pushups and the way she flicked her hair out of her face with a serious expression. But my smile disappeared when she told me that she was doing it so that she could have a “little tummy.”

This girl doesn’t have an ounce of fat on her body, but she decided that she needed to exercise so that she could look better. That her tummy wasn’t little enough. What on earth possessed her to think that?

There are, of course, the TV shows, toys, and ads to point to. She was born into a world that teaches her to look a certain way – to get there however she can.

But what about the people around her?

I would like to propose the idea that when you show contempt for your body and appearance, it has a real effect on those around you. How many times has my sister seen me look in the mirror and say it’ll have to do for the day? It’s obviously stuck with her.

The way we look at ourselves says a lot about who we are and other people pick up on that. When a girl that you think is especially pretty complains about the way she looks, your heart falls a bit. If she isn’t good enough, how could you ever be?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” It’s not encouraging to lead someone into discontent with how they look.

I’m especially speaking to those of us with younger siblings. Part of our job is to set the example for them in godliness. They do follow us, whether we realize it or not. They look up to us and want to be like us, and we must turn that to their benefit. It pained me to hear my sister talking about why she wanted to exercise. I don’t want her to think that way about herself. But that way of thinking is a direct reflection of the people she is around, including me.

How do you want your friends, siblings, peers to view themselves? Set an example in that, not in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Encourage them and build them up by having a healthy view of yourself. They’ll catch on.

Kira

How do you lead people to see themselves in a godly way? What’s the hardest part about it?

Following Your Passion as a Teenager

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I, like any other person you talk to, have a passion. My passion is writing. One of my brothers has a passion for coding and other technical things I don’t understand. One of my sisters has a passion for music.

All three of us are teenagers. We follow our passions in the midst of teenage lives and I want to show you what that means.

Yes, everyone has a passion for something – children, adults, and teens alike. But I don’t know how to follow your passion as an adult, seeing as I am not one, nor have I ever been one. Also, I imagine not many children are on the internet, googling how to follow their passions. So let’s look at it from a teen’s perspective.

What is a passion?

A passion is something you love. What gives you a surge of joy when you think about it or satisfaction when you do it well? My sister can’t stop grinning when she leads worship without messing up any chords.

I also believe a passion is something that God gives to His children. He wants us to enjoy life in our own unique ways, so He gives us things that we especially enjoy over others. It is also something we use to glorify Him. He doesn’t want His children serving Him a certain way because they have to – He wants us to serve Him because we want to. So He gives us a passion for something that we can use to do just that.

School

School is often the most prominent aspect in the life of a teenager. I’m in the middle of high school and my classes take up a lot of time. Sometimes I hate that, but it’s where God has me, and, chances are, where He has you too.

In following your passion, it is crucial to work hard in school. Even though that guitar looks awfully enticing over there in the corner, your math homework needs proper attention. High school is meant to be preperation for college, where you can choose to study your passion for four or more years. No good thing comes from neglecting your schoolwork, so keep at it.

Health

Teens have the unrivaled advantage of youth. We are at a time in our lives where it’s relatively easy to be healthy. We have young bodies that are eager to give us energy and vitality in exchange for our taking care of them. So take care of yourself so that you can use that energy on your passion.

Spiritual and emotional health are also important. I don’t write very well if my heart isn’t taken care of. Spend time in your Bible and with other strong Christian friends. A social life can be good for you if it consists of the right people. We were created for community, so don’t hide in your room all the time, tinkering with your latest improvement to the light bulb.

Discipline

With school, soccer, piano, youth group, and who knows what else, teenagers have a lot of demands upon their time (though adults often laugh at the idea, it’s true). Following your passion is going to take discipline. You have to work hard at all of the other things in your life in order to even make time for what you want to do. And when you have that time, you must use it wisely. It is valuable and you are filling it with the pursuit of a desire God has given you. Don’t waste it.

Don’t give up!

Although it can be difficult to follow your passion as a teen, these are beautiful years that should be used for just such a thing. Even if it takes a lot of extra work on your part, invest in your passion. Do it to God’s glory and for His people. Pray that He will guide you and use you as you work.

Your passion isn’t just something to write about in a “what I did this summer” essay. It is something to cherish and nurture. Make it happen. Make it grow.

Kira

What’s your passion? How do you work to make it part of your life?

From the Archives: Conceal, Don’t Feel

The following post consistently held its position as one of my top five most popular posts ever since I originally published it. It was the first time I was this open and honest on my blog. Now presenting Conceal, Don’t Feel.

Originally published: 9/30/14


If you have ever heard the song from Frozen called “For the First Time in Forever” you might remember Elsa’s words in the moments before she is to be crowned Queen of Arendelle.

Don’t let them in

Don’t let them see

Be the good girl

You always have to be

Conceal

Don’t feel

Put on a show…

After I watched that movie for the first time, I honestly sang those words to myself over and over again – whenever something was wrong. I figured nobody wanted to hear my problems and I didn’t want to sound like I was complaining or end up boring people to death. But most of all, I didn’t want anyone to think I had any difficulties with life at all.

I recently went to a middle school retreat where the first Bible talk was exactly what I needed to hear. The theme that night was “Life as a Christian is hard.” The speaker first made this fact very clear, then went on to say that we often want our lives to look perfect to people outside of our immediate family or we want to make Christianity look appealing to nonbelievers and so we hide our problems. I realized this is me. Next, the pastor told us that it’s okay to admit we have problems and to talk about them with someone you trust. He repeated this note and assured us that it was in fact a good thing to do. That’s why God gave us friends. To share burdens – to be there for each other.

This hit me. Hard.

I had been hiding my problems for so long, trying to look good and be perfect to almost everyone I knew. It was wearing me down. I was on edge. I kept telling my sister that I had no one to talk to, when, really, I could have talked to her or plenty of other people. I was hiding it. Concealing. Not feeling. I made an actual effort to force my negative emotions down inside of me until they couldn’t show through any more to anyone outside my family.

Last November, my Grandpa died. It wasn’t easy on anyone. He died only a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, without any of us knowing whether or not he was a Christian. For months, I cried and scolded myself for this. I had had the perfect opportunity to testify for Jesus a few months before he died. And I hadn’t. I didn’t do it because I was scared. I didn’t want to be laughed at. I wanted to look perfect in a human’s eyes. So I continued to lose sleep over this until August. November to August I worried and prayed for him to be in heaven, but I was never sure he was. I never had any peace about it.

But at camp, in August, there was someone to talk to. I told her everything, tears pouring from my eyes. I hadn’t spoken about my Grandpa’s death to anyone since November. I had tried to avoid the subject entirely and got upset with my siblings when they talked about it. But, now, I was able to dump it all out. I drained those tears. I felt so much better. The lady I talked to pointed me to John 3:16, which may seem like a familiar verse and not really comforting, but it was.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Next, she told me to replace some of the words with my own name. Now it read:

For God so loved Kira that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Kira believes in Him she should not perish but have everlasting life.

That changed it a lot for me. It gave this often used verse a new meaning and it comforted me. Why? Because if God loved me enough to send His only Son to die for me, then He must have loved my Grandpa enough to die for him, too. And while I don’t know where my Grandpa is right now, I know that God gave him a choice too. God used who He wanted to use in my Grandpa’s life. And even if I didn’t outright say it, I hope that I lived for Jesus enough to make a difference for my Grandpa. I hope that he saw Christ through my actions – even if I wasn’t always perfect.

All that to say, after I talked about my Grandpa’s death for the first time in almost nine months, I felt much better. It was so much easier after I told someone what I was feeling. Now I feel much more at peace about it. It was doing me no good to try to “Conceal, Don’t feel.” It was only hurting me.

Now that I know that, hopefully it won’t be so hard to show people that I live a broken life in a broken world, just like everybody else. Hopefully it won’t be so hard to admit that I’m a sinner and that things hurt. It’s not easy to be a Christian. But sharing makes it easier.

Kira